PARTRIDGE project partners discuss partridge habitat improvements in Göttingen
PARTRIDGE aims to increase farmland biodiversity by 30% on its 10 demonstration sites by 2023. To achieve this ambitious goal, high-quality conservation measures have been implemented on at least seven percent of the farmed land at all 500-ha demo sites. These conservation measures are not only expected to increase grey partridge numbers but also many other farmland wildlife species.
After progress updates from all the partners, current habitat management issues were brought up and solutions were discussed – especially regarding the project’s main conservation measure, the PARTRIDGE flower blocks. This exchange of experience helped to inspire debate about how to further improve the project’s conservation measures. Despite the project’s many challenges, there was an overall feeling of engagement, teamwork and inspiration from the meeting. The event highlighted once again, that we are working well as a trans-national collaboration to resolve issues relating to the decline of farmland biodiversity.
The two-day meeting was followed by two field trips to Germany’s demonstration sites: Nesselröden and Diemarden (two of the 10 sites of PARTRIDGE). The field trip included the Steering Committee members, local project farmers and hunters.
At Diemarden, the local project coordinators Eckhard Gottschalk and Lisa Dumpe, showed off the 31 hectares of PARTRIDGE flower blocks the farmers had created so far; for farmland birds, insects and brown hares. The partners were also able to see the new autumn-sown PARTRIDGE flower blocks which were established two autumns ago.
This mix was developed at the request of the local farmers asking specifically to be able to sow their flower blocks in autumn. Spring-sowing can be difficult in this part of Lower Saxony. This opportunity was then used to compose a mix based entirely on native plants – which improves the food resource for insects as compared to mixes that also contain non-native plants.
All project partners agreed to investigate trialling locally adapted autumn mixes at their own demo sites. With the aim to further improve winter food availability for farmland wildlife and foraging cover, especially for partridge chicks during summer.
To finish off on the last day, Roderick Enzerink from FACE (European Federation for Hunting and Conservation) presented an inspiring talk to the PARTRIDGE Steering Committee, about how the PARTRIDGE project could improve its impact on agri-environmental policy making. This finally lead the way for the presentation of ideas on how to further spread the knowledge gained from this transnational collaboration, both locally and internationally.
Written by Lucy Robertson, PARTRIDGE placement student from Swansea University; edited by Francis Buner, GWCT and Head of PARTRIDGE